Oct 17 , 2019
Science has now confirmed what fishkeeping fans have known for some time: watching
fish, shrimps and so on in their underwater world is relaxing and promotes well-being.
Standing by a gently babbling river, watching the water or gazing out over a favourite
landscape – again and again, studies confirm that calm moments in nature help people
Researchers at the National Marine Aquarium in Plymouth have now proven that
aquariums – and the fish that live in them – offer the same form of relaxation. Its huge
tanks have been pulling in the crowds for a long time now. When one of the tanks was
restored and gradually filled with new aquatic creatures, the scientists seized the
opportunity to conduct a small study.
Observing the observers
The researchers watched the visitors who looked at the new aquarium and measured
various parameters – in particular their blood pressure and pulse to draw conclusions
about their stress levels. They also used surveys to ask about the visitors’ health.
Participants provided information about their mental well-being. And the results were
clear: ‘We were able to show that the underwater landscapes had a positive effect on
people’s moods’, explains head researcher Deborah Cracknell.
Lots to see
Watching the fish in their underwater world had a quantifiable effect on visitors’ stress
levels. The longer they spent watching the fish, the greater the impact. To make this
clear, the scientists recorded data at three different points: when the aquarium contained
only water, when it was half-filled with creatures, and again when the aquarium was
completely set up with all fish and plants. They concluded that the more creatures the
aquarium contains, the greater the effect. Looking at the aquarium reduced visitors’ heart
rates and made them more relaxed.
Haven of relaxation
Up to now, large aquarium experience centres have seen themselves primarily as places
of education and clarification. ‘But they can offer totally different benefits as well’, states
Dr Sabine Pahl, co-author of the study. In stressful times, underwater worlds could serve
as havens of calm and relaxation – particularly for people who do not have the
opportunity to enjoy nature. Watching fish swimming around an aquarium and losing
yourself in the experience for long periods reduces stress and helps you stay healthy for
longer. And as Cracknell explains, the aquarium does not necessarily have to be huge: ‘It
has already been shown several times that even small home aquariums have a calming
effect on the body and reduce stress.’
Aquariums are a great choice for everyone, not just experienced aquarists. As well as
their calming effect, they are easy to maintain and do not take up too much time. But
maintenance is important – only a well-kept aquarium will look nice, keep your fish
healthy and help you to feel good too. With various aquatic plants, fish and creatures, an
aquarium can be an eye-catching feature in any home and good for the soul – both for
you and your guests.